Women's lacrosse has six-game win streak halted by Princeton
The team nearly completed a late comeback, but Princeton proved too strong.
Following a dominant victory over the University of Connecticut on Tuesday, the No. 20 women’s lacrosse team’s six-game winning streak came to an end Saturday when the Big Green’s second-half comeback against No. 17 Princeton University fell short. The 14-12 loss marked the first home defeat in six games at Scully-Fahey Field for Dartmouth.
The Big Green, ranked No. 25 in the country at the time, received goals from 10 players to defeat UConn 18-9 on Tuesday and elevate them to a No. 20 ranking. The game was rescheduled from March 6 due to weather conditions. The Big Green, which boasts the Ivy League’s top-scoring offense, had no trouble scoring against the Huskies. The 10 different goal scorers set a new season high for Dartmouth, and the Big Green also controlled the game by outshooting the Huskies 31-18.
Goaltender Kiera Vrindten ’20 credited the win to the team’s play on both ends of the field as well as the team’s motivation to not let up its intensity when it gained a comfortable lead.
“We go in every week with a set of goals on offense and defense that we either carry on from previous weeks or focus on to get better,” she said. “Against UConn, we had a set of goals, and we were focused and clicked in on making sure to capitalize on them. The attack played really well and was cohesive, and the defense was gritty and determined.”
Midfielder Katie Bourque ’20 scored a team-high four goals for Dartmouth. She said Tuesday’s game was one of the biggest wins of the Big Green’s season so far.
“A lot of different people were contributing to the scoring and causing turnovers, and the offense and defense were working well together,” Bourque said. “It was a huge team win.”
The Big Green entered Saturday’s showdown with Princeton undefeated in Ivy League play and in all of its five home games this year. The team emphasizes defending Scully-Fahey Field and finds an extra spark of energy when it plays its home games.
“We kind of have this underlying idea of Scully-Fahey as our home,” Vrindten said. “Our job is to protect it. We take pride in where we practice and where we spend time every day with the team.”
The Dartmouth players knew they had a tough task heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Tigers. Princeton was looking for revenge after the Big Green earned a narrow victory over the Tigers last season. Princeton ended the first half on a 5-0 run and led 9-5 at halftime, but Dartmouth fought back in the second half. The Big Green regained the lead at 12-11 in the second half, in large part due to the success on the draw from Kathryn Giroux ’19. She won 11 draws, tying her for 13th all-time in NCAA history with 362 successful draws.
Despite the Big Green’s strong play to start the second half, Princeton went on a late run and scored the last three goals of the game in the final eight minutes, dropping Dartmouth 14-12. Bourque and Elizabeth Mastrio ’19 combined for seven goals in the game, and Mastrio tied her career high with six points.
Its undefeated records at home and in Ivy League competition have ended, but the team is still happy with its success to this point and wants to keep fighting for the Ivy League championship.
“We’ve been playing really well together as a team,” Vrindten said. “In the Ivy League, every game is so important, and we only have so many teams to compete against. There’s always that kind of fire to win against an Ivy League team. It really comes down to who is the tougher team in the 60 minutes. It doesn’t matter who is better on paper.”
Vrindten said the team is a tight-knit group and is motivated to make a postseason run. Following last year’s devastating 16-14 loss to the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League Tournament semifinals, the Big Green is resolved to go further in this year’s competition.
“We’re all very determined with how our season ended last year,” Vrindten said. “We were able to make it into the Ivy League tournament for the first time in a while as a program, and we left on a bitter note. We were really close to winning, and we are all on the same level in terms of what our goals are for this season: We want to make it back to the Ivy tournament, and we want to win an Ivy championship.”
Bourque echoed Vrindten and said that the team feels confident because everybody is working well together.
“We are finding success working off of other people’s plays,” Bourque said. “No one on this team wants to stop playing come May. We want to see our season extend as far as it can.”
The Big Green has benefitted from the goalkeeping of Vrindten, who made the First Team All-Ivy League and was named Ivy League Goalkeeper of the Year last season. She continued her great play at the start of this season, but missed two weeks due to injury. In her return to action against Harvard University on March 30, she stopped eight shots and earned Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Vrindten said watching from the sidelines while she was injured helped her appreciate just how hard her teammates work, which helped her in her return to action.
“It was inspiring to see our team come out with wins, especially when I was on the sideline,” she said. “I am really grateful to get back to where I was before I was injured. Winning Defensive Player of the Week was great, but I don’t try to hold on to those things too much because that was for previous games. Now, we’re focusing on another game, and my job is just to save the ball and put in my work.”
Vrindten was the third straight Dartmouth player to win Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week, joining Giroux and Claire Marshall ’21. Bourque noted the importance of the defense’s success this season and how it has helped the team’s offense.
“The defense has been so important and crucial because if we can’t make those stops and cause turnovers, the offense won’t have the ball,” she said. “I credit a lot of our success on offense to turnovers that the defense creates. This year, we have one of the best clearing percentages because our defenders handle the ball really well under pressure.”
The players hope the team’s combination of offensive and defensive prowess will translate into success for the remainder of the regular season as well as the postseason. The Big Green’s record now sits at 7-4 overall with a 3-1 mark in Ivy League play, including a 5-1 record at home. Next Saturday, the Dartmouth players will travel to Philadelphia with revenge on their minds, as the matchup against Penn will be the first time the teams have played each other since last year’s Ivy League Tournament semifinal.